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Parts of Suffolk 'too expensive' for schools to recruit teachers

PUBLISHED: 09:01 16 June 2016

Southwold

Southwold

Archant

Education leaders have warned recruiting teachers in some of Suffolk's most desirable areas has become increasingly difficult because they cannot afford to move to the county.

Graham White, secretary for the Suffolk National Union of Teachers (NUT), said parts of the county struggled to attract newly qualified staff who could not afford to live in affluent towns such as Aldeburgh and Southwold.

His comments come after Southwold Primary School received a “requires improvement” rating in its latest Ofsted report, which highlighted problems with staffing.

“The school has struggled to cope with the absence of teachers,” the report said.

“It has not had all of its permanent staff at school at the same time since 2014.

“While leaders have ensured that every class always has a replacement teacher, the school has struggled to fill all their management roles effectively.”

John Beckett, who is chairman of governors at the school, said there were national difficulties in recruiting teachers, which had been “exacerbated” in Southwold.

“Although we would regard Suffolk as a nice part of the country to live, there are difficulties getting people to move here,” he added.

“One of the factors is house prices, which does make it harder to recruit. None of our teachers lives in the town.”

According to Land Registry data, the average price of a house selling in Southwold in 2015 was more than £440,000.

Mr White said it was difficult for teachers, particularly those just entering the profession, to afford accommodation in parts of the county, with many opting to live with parents out of necessity.

“Suffolk is, in many areas, just not affordable for teachers, which means many travel some distance to work,” he added.

To resolve the problem, he believes housing association properties should be allocated to teachers and other public sector workers. Incentives to attract staff should also be considered, he said.

Suffolk County Council, which was praised in the Ofsted report for its support in finding interim positions, said it takes the issues raised “extremely seriously” and would work to address concerns.

“We want all schools to have access to the right number of teachers with the right skills so every child in every community in Suffolk has the opportunity to fulfil their potential,” a spokesman added.

“This is why we work alongside partner organisations such as Teach First and Suffolk and Norfolk Initial Teacher Training to promote teaching in Suffolk.”

The council also runs a school to school support partnership to help ensure good practice is widely shared.

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